When I’m pregnant, a strange thing happens. I suddenly become a pasta fan. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m NOT knocked up, I don’t hate the stuff. I just have a general apathy towards it (and this was apparent waaaay before the low carb movement waltzed in and chucked a stake through the heart of everything noodle related). I’m not the kind of gal who will hit up an Italian restaurant (or any restaurant with a menu bigger than a single page) and order the Boscaiola . Give me a pizza (or steak) any day.
When I’m pregnant however, I suddenly grow quite fond of the humble penne. Fettuccine becomes my friend. I will happily cook AND eat a bowl with my son. It’s like the tiny person inhabiting my stomach takes over control of my tastebuds and points them in the direction of noodles.
Wednesday night at our place has recently become ‘Pasta Night’ this is due in large part to my husband playing soccer that night and pasta, in all its saucy glory, being one of the most excellent meals to eat in shifts. The toddler and I can dive into a bowl at our usual 6pm dinner time, while a large portion can wait, patiently biding its time, on the stove top for the return of the one we fondly refer to as ‘the daddy’.
While I’m not adverse to a bottle of the jarred stuff (the Aldi Organic variety is an absolute winner), I generally prefer to make my sauce from scratch. This is partly due to health benefits of being able to include (and disqualify) a bunch of ingredients and partly due to my deep desire to be a bit Nigella Lawson and stand over a hot pot of bubbling, starchy goodness.
Though I like to mix it up most weeks, I’ve now nailed two recipes that will continue to be on high rotation, probably long after soccer season finishes and quite possibly after this baby is born.
The first is a complete knock-together that I came up with last week when I couldn’t get to the supermarket and needed to make do with what was in the fridge. It’s a fettuccine based dish which stars organic sausage, red onion and pine nuts. And it is insanely delicious.
The second is good ol’ fashioned Spag Bolognese, with lots of added veggie goodness. This is Ollie’s absolute favourite dinner and I do a little happy dance whenever he eats it as I know just how much of the good stuff he’s getting in with every mouthful.
Without further ado, I give you my Wednesday night pasta dream team.
Wholemeal Fettuccine With Sausage, Spinach + Pine Nuts
- 450g wholemeal fettuccine
- 3-4 beef sausages, cut into chunks/discs (I use organic, grass fed sausages from our local butcher)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 25g unsalted butter (I love butter, you could use olive oil if you aren’t big on the butter)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- Cook the fettuccine according to packet instructions and set aside to drain when done.
- Melt the butter in a large frypan over medium heat
- Add the onion and garlic and gently sauté
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue to fry off till everything has softened.
- Take this pan off the heat and set aside (I use two frypans for this recipe but you could scrape the onion mixture into a bowl, rinse the pan and re-use for the sausages).
- Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium/high heat.
- Add the sausages.
- Fry over medium heat until sausages are cooked through.
- Add onion mixture to the sausage pan.
- Stir to combine.
- Add fettuccine to the sausage pan.
- Make sure everything is coated with the glorious fat that has fried off the sausages.
- Stir through the pine nuts and spinach (the spinach will wilt slightly due to the heat of the pasta)
- Transfer to a large serving bowl and scatter over parmesan.
Spaghetti Bolognese With Lots Of Veggies
* I allow this sauce to simmer for as long as I possibly can. If you’re short for time, you can cut the simmering time back but if you can manage it, the longer the better!
- 500g wholemeal spaghetti
- 500g mince (I use organic, 5 star mince)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 zucchini
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 2 cans diced or chopped tomatoes (I love the Aldi Organic range)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 25g unsalted butter or olive oil
- Sea salt and cracked pepper
- Optional: 1-2 tbsp beef stock/broth (I add this as I think it intensifies the flavour plus the health benefits for homemade stock are insane. You can do without unless you have some knocking around in the fridge/freezer).
- Pop all your veggies (except the canned tomatoes, that would just be silly) into a food processor.
- Give them a good whizz to finely chop.
- In a large, heavy based saucepan (I use my massive Le Creuset pot), heat the butter or olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the veggie mix and gently sauté till soft.
- Add the mince to the pot and break up with a wooden spoon to ensure it cooks through properly.
- Add the beef stock (if using).
- Once mince is cooked through, add tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and about another tomato tin worth of water.
- Bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat and allow to simmer for as long as you’ve got. Ideally 1- 1.5 hours is what I aim for. If the sauce appears to be thickening too much, add some more water. I usually keep the tomato tin handy and just refill it and add to the pot whenever I notice it drying out/thickening up.
- Cook spaghetti according to packet instructions.
- Toss drained spaghetti through simmered sauce, transfer to a large bowl and serve topped with parmesan cheese.